A bill making it illegal to eavesdrop on certain types of radio communications has been amended to avoid prohibiting newsroom scanner use.
In late October, the House Telecommunications Subcommittee gave voice-vote approval to amendments to the proposed Wireless Privacy Enhancement Act of 1997. The amendments, which were introduced by subcommittee chair Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), narrowed the scope of the proposed regulation.
In its original form, the bill would have prohibited the manufacture of scanners capable of receiving “commercial mobile service” radio signals, a broad range of signals that in many communities includes police, fire and other emergency bands. After scanner manufacturers objected to the proposed regulation, Tauzin’s office told the Monitoring Times that banning the scanners typically used in newsrooms was not the intent of the law. Instead, the law was intended to prevent monitoring of cellular phone conversations and similar communications.
The amendments adopted by the telecommunications subcommittee change “commercial mobile service” to “domestic cellular radio communications service or the personal communications service,” a much smaller section of the radio spectrum. No further action was taken on the bill since the adoption of the amendments before Congress adjourned. (H.R. 2369)